County to Temporarily Pause Rental, Utility Assistance Program
The county’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, ERAP, will temporarily pause to new applications starting Thursday in an effort to process existing applications.
During this time, Hawaiʻi Community Lending, HCL, and its partners will connect applicants with available job opportunities and no-cost financial counseling offered through the Financial Empowerment Centers.
“The pause on new applications will allow our nonprofit partners who are working hard on the front lines to process existing applications while still bridging our local people to good paying jobs at the County, for-profit businesses, and nonprofit organizations,” said Jeff Gilbreath, Executive Director of HCL, the lead contractor for the program.
According to Gilbreath, this announcement comes as the program reports that 53% of those approved for ERAP assistance are currently unemployed, at a time when public and private employers have a significant number of job opportunities available.
HCL anticipates that the ERAP application portal will re-open to accept applications on or before the end of September 2022.
Applicants already enrolled in ERAP do not need to reapply, and program partners will continue to pay out assistance without disruption. Applicants who applied before Aug. 19, 2022, and are in the process of finalizing their application, will continue to have their applications processed and funded.
In partnership with several local nonprofits, ERAP has disbursed $20.6 million in rent and utility assistance to 7,312 low-income Hawaiʻi Island residents to keep them in rental housing and prevent homelessness since launching on April 1, 2021.
“Our administration is focused on creating sustainable models of rental relief so that our residents can set themselves up beyond month-to-month assistance and gain real financial independence and solid employment opportunities that alleviate mounting pressures on themselves and their families,” said Mayor Mitch Roth. “We applaud the tremendous work of all our partners who have pooled resources to bolster our response to community needs and amplify our overall impact.”
Roth and ERAP nonprofit partners are encouraging local residents to visit www.HawaiiCountyERAP.org to learn more about available job opportunities, resources to obtain employment, and services and resources offered through the Housing Stability Services providers.
Residents who need assistance during the program’s pause on new applications are encouraged to contact the County’s Financial Empowerment Centers, run by Hawaiian Community Assets and Hawaiʻi First Federal Credit Union. The Financial Empowerment Centers provide free financial counseling to find financial solutions that fit their family, including grant and loan options.
Book an appointment at a center near you at www.HawaiiCountyERAP.org.